I remember – A week gone – A life time spent
Bushra Anjum, HLF13 participant: As I sit now in my faculty office waiting for my class to begin in an hour (I am a faculty member in Lahore, Pakistan) I think about the many fond memories I have made in the last 7 days in Heidelberg.
I remember sitting with Sir Michael Atiyah as he explained the very first computers were made out of timber, and as the wood is self lubricating, it was in some ways a better substance than metal. Also he fondly remembered being with the Nobel Prize winner Pakistani scientist Dr. Abdus Salam at many occasions.
I remember sharing a table with Dr. Stephen Smale on the Marian boat as he passionately recalled his many trips to Peshawar, Pakistan, while studying crystals and his mentioning that he travelled many countries and Pakistani crystals were by far the best he came across.
I remember Dr. Michael Rabin asking me, rather cautiously in order to be appropriate, if I am forced to wear head scarf/cover my head or face when I go to work ( to which I laughingly replied no, I am a rebel, and I would like to see people try).
I remember the very engaging talk by Dr. Alan Kay in which he shared the golden principle BIAB (put Butler In A Box, and keep him with you for consultation) and later asking Dr. Butler Lampson if I may get him in a box (waving my camera in front of him).
I remember his hearty laughter at my unique way of asking for a picture with him. I remember talking to Dr. Alan Kay afterwards, appreciating his referencing to many of his colleagues during his talk, to which he replied “they are my family”. I remember the moisture in his eyes as he said it.
I remember talking to Dr. Srinivasa Varadhan as he said “going to temple for many is like a therapy session” to which I replied “yes it is like out sourcing your worries to a third party”. I remember him laughing and saying that’s a good CS way to put it.
I remember saying to Dr. Frederick Brooks that Brook’s law (adding manpower to a late software project makes it later) is a work of genius and his replying “no it was just experience”. It became a standard greeting routine between us for the next 6 days, whenever I see him I would say the word “genius” he would reply “experience”.
I remember the look of comical horror on Dr. Fernando Corbato’s face when I asked him how he would feel riding in a driver-less car in five years, “even the thought gives me brain freeze” he said.
I remember asking Dr. William Kahan for an autograph on my autograph sheet and he commented after signing, “now are you going to sell it on Ebay?”. “Of course not!”, I said with a look of indignation. That became a standing joke, whenever he sees me taking my autograph sheet to another laureate he will ask, “now what is the current black market value of this autograph sheet” and I will reply “Noooo I am not going to sell it” and he would chuckle.
I remember running to Charles Bachman on my first day at HLF (he was the top of my list of scientists to meet) and excitedly telling him, “Sir I share something with you!” On his asking what is that I replied, “11th December … my birthday”. I remember the amusement in his eyes as this was certainly not the reply he was expecting.
Ah look at the clock! It’s almost time for my lecture. As I write the last few lines of this last blog entry about Heidelberg Laureate Forum, I have to thank and acknowledge Beatrice Lugger of the blog team for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with you all.
Thank you, and all the best HLF team for the future events! Allah Hafiz
Bushra Anjum is an Assistant Professor in the Computer Science Department at the National University of Computer & Emerging Sciences, Lahore, Pakistan. She is a Fulbright scholar, who completed her PhD from the Computer Science Department at North Carolina State University (NCSU), Raleigh, USA in 2012, advised by Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor and IEEE Fellow Dr. Harry Perros. Alongside, she also completed a one year Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching curriculum